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Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Tuesday 28 May 2024

23rd May 2024: Aston (mod)

The early morning view from my bedroom window was discouraging; every surface was soaking wet. This was not untypical in recent months, when contemplating a Chester Easy Riders Thursday outing. Only ridiculously positive personalities like Steve Tan could expect that a dry ride could be possible. Apparently, not many others fancied a wet coldish day on the bike. Apart from Steve Tan and myself, only riders conditioned in slate grey wet Wales were comfortable with attempting to enjoy a bike ride on such a day. So it was that George, Alan and Steve Hughes met us inside at Alison’s, as we wistfully recalled how we had all enjoyed a beautiful warm day earlier in the week. Steve Hughes was thinking of joining George and myself as he said that he wasn’t feeling too frisky. I discouraged him, thinking that he would become frustrated and cold at our leisurely pace. Of course, normally his company is always welcome (as welcome as a hornet getting inside your Lycra ). 

Without Megaphone Ray, the moderate group then, consisted of just George and me. Not for the first time over the years. I recall one enjoyable but icy ride to Bangor-on-Dee a few years ago with just the two of us. As far as George is concerned, you could not have more interesting and easy-going company. We headed out towards Beeston Castle in the hope of missing a hard climb or flooded roads on other routes from Tattenhall. The tactics sort of worked overall, but by Castleside Farm the road was well flooded, so much so that we stopped to allow the car behind to pass and test the depth. The lady in the car didn’t move as she was waiting to use us as her depth gauge. Anyway, by staying tight to the castle side of the road we ploughed through without incident. After Bunbury came Brindley, but the little lane to Gradeley Green was likely to be flooded, so we turned  left for Swanley Bridge, right to Ravensmooor, and south to Wrenbury. Then, quite a surprise! I had tried to contact 18 The Park a few times without success in order to book lunch. As we turned in at our intended venue a helpful, short, round man walking a small black and white terrier told us that it was no longer operating there. The good news was that it had relocated at the Bhurtpore  in nearby Aston. When we arrived at our old favourite, we had this wonderful hybrid of real ales and curries as of old, and the staff of 18 The Park doing their thing in the dining room at the end. A pleasant guy greeted us as the new owner. He had been a local dairy farmer and long-term customer. They were doing some renovation in the old bar area but had a high quality wigwam /marquee in the garden with a bar and tables. We settled for lunch in the tent, which had an attractive ambience, and really nice staff. The takeover had evidently been a friendly affair with the previous owner advising on beers.  They hadn’t got soda on draught in the tent yet, and in a true Dave Pipesque, north-east reaction, George immediately turned down his first choice of drink, because of the possible extra five and six required to buy a bottle of soda to go with his blackcurrant .   This from a man whose pension is rumoured to be comparable to that of the nearly eighty Tory MPs currently retiring. I can’t remember much of our amiable conversation, apart from discussing  a suitable small car for George to purchase next year to go alongside the Yeti in his stables.   

The ride back was direct as it would be largely against the wind, and Alison’s closes at three so if we arrived long after the mod plus threesome, Steve Tan could be stuck in the car park waiting  for his chauffeur. So, we headed for Cholmondeley Castle via Chorley Bank. The stretch up to Bickerton Hill is not my favourite slog, but the escarpment appeared to eventually shelter us from the wind. After the Harthill climb and welcome fast decent, it is easy to forget that there is a further sting in the tail up the road. I remember Bryan Wade cruising past me on his electric Cannondale on this steep bank. George recalled Mike Gilbert (the Irish Scouts Orienteering Champion circa 1899) of all people, once being caught out, having overlooked this low-geared last little challenge. We kept up a decent pace on the descent and run in. I only had ten or fifteen minutes to wait for the Aspirational Group, as they had adjusted their distance because Steve Hughes was more concerned about expiring than aspiring  this week. I received an email from him this morning, so he is still alive, and hopefully will soon be back to his best. Many thanks to George for his valued contribution to a relaxed day out. And Steve Tan, sometimes labelled as a deluded optimist, was right to be positive, because we were neither wet nor properly cold all day.  About 33mls. Covered. 


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